What if you had to build your professional network from scratch in a new state? Could you do it? What if you also had to build a new consulting business at the same time? Sounds daunting, but M. Valentina Escobar-Gonzalez managed to do both and still made the area's "40 under 40" list in less than a year!

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After moving from South Florida to Tennessee, Valentina volunteered on the boards of area nonprofits, offering her social media expertise free of charge while building an extensive network among the city's biggest businesses. Through her newly forged connections, she built her client base and landed speaking gigs that helped her to grow her consultancy, offering social media marketing services to nonprofits and small businesses.

Valentina used her flair for forging online connections to help build social followings and drive action for her client organizations, focusing not just on "Likes" or follower counts but on business metrics, including donations and new volunteer signups for nonprofits, and revenue for businesses.

I invited Valentina to Marketing Smarts to share tips for engaging your audience on social media and inspiring them to support your organization.

Here are just a few highlights from my conversation with Valentina:

To succeed with social media marketing, you need to post consistently even if you only have a small team (07:01): "You have to be consistent. A lot of nonprofits have one person designated to doing all these things and they're already overwhelmed. They're already bombarded with all these other things they have to do. So I try to say 'be consistent.' If you can't do it, try to split it with someone else—so...this person's going to take the Instagram, this one's going to focus on LinkedIn (which is huge), and also Facebook."

For best results, layer your social media campaigns (07:28): "We're going to create three campaigns with Facebook. We're going to create a 'Like' campaign to get new likes. Then we're going to create a campaign to increase engagement. And then we're finally, once we have new Likes, we have people engaged with our page, we're going to have a call to action, such as 'sign up for our newest fundraiser.' So I tell [the nonprofit], 'We're going to get new Likes, which are Millennials. We're going to get Millennials. We're going to make a Facebook ad using Power Editor and we'll reach people that are between the ages of 22 [and] 30 that work at a specific organization or corporation that's huge in the area, and then we're going to limit it to a ZIP code. That's one campaign.

"Then the second campaign would be an engagement campaign, so something that's going on at your nonprofit that's interesting. [Say] there's an upcoming football game and they're all dressed up in football gear. Then we create an ad just to make sure that everyone sees that post on Facebook. Facebook organic reach is very low these days, so you have to pay to play....

"Then we do a call to action. Once people like our page, they see our post, which would be the engaging photo, then we do a call to action like 'donate now' or 'visit our website'. For every 1,000 website visitors, a nonprofit raises $612!"

Work on social media, but don't neglect your email marketing efforts (15:34): "Email results are one-third of online fundraising revenue, so email's still very important for nonprofit organizations (and for-profit organizations). It's all about having that list. You can use your email list to create a specific ad on Facebook saying, 'Hey, you haven't donated in the past year, we would love to see you again, what have we done wrong,' so you can use those emails to create ads on social media to get those people to come back or to interact and engage."

To learn more about Valentina, visit Beyond-Engagement.com, and be sure to follow her on Twitter at @EquineValentina.

Valentina and I talked about much more, including the best spot to network at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast and why you should (sometimes) work for free, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!

Music credit: Noam Weinstein.

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